Colin Rule, CEO of odr.com, recently delivered the keynote for the Japan Association for Online Dispute Resolution (JODR) conference via digital hologram. Colin delivered the presentation in San Francisco, but via digital transmission he appeared right on stage next to Mayu Watanabe, the conference convenor:
Colin and Mayu could hear each other in real time, so Colin took live questions from the audience. Even though Colin was appearing digitally, he could walk around the stage, turn 360 degrees, and even sit in a chair for a portion of the discussion. The illusion of physical presence was created by projecting a special video onto a semi-transparent screen, so it was most effective from the perspective of the audience sitting right in front of the stage.
The technology was provided by a company called ARHT Media (arhtmedia.com) that facilitates hologram presentations for corporate clients. The technology is not cheap; a single presentation can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. But the experience was impressive and professional, and it clearly made an impression on the audience.
The presenter experience was quite a bit different than the audience experience, however. The presenter in a digital hologram transmission wears wireless headphones and a wireless microphone, holds a wireless clicker to advance slides, and is filmed in a well-lit studio with green floors and a green backdrop (the ARHT technology removes the background from the final visual presented to the audience). The presenter can see a video of the audience on a monitor, but cannot see themselves as a hologram during the presentation. It actually feels a little bit like being on a television program, staring into the camera and unable to see the audience. But once the hologram connected and the presentation began the enthusiasm on the part of the audience in Tokyo was apparent, because they bunched together to view the digital hologram from the optimal angle.
Further discussion of the experience of interacting via hologram will appear in an article written by Colin and Mayu for the upcoming issue of the Journal of Online Dispute Resolution, entitled “ODR in the Metaverse.” The abstract appears below:
The term metaverse describes a vision for the next iteration of the internet where users can navigate computer networks that resemble interconnected 3D spaces, discovering information and interacting with others. While the concept of the metaverse isn’t really new, it has recently become a hot area for investment, as CEOs are now spending billions of dollars to bring it to fruition in the near future. While many questions remain about how the metaverse will work and who it will benefit, early implementations of different components of the underlying technology (e.g. virtual reality, digital holograms, and avatar-based interactions) are giving us a chance to see how these technologies might be useful in resolving disputes online. This article explores the promises and challenges of online dispute resolution (ODR) in the metaverse by defining the key components, describing recent metaverse experiences, analyzing impacts on party psychology, and assessing the reasons to be both optimistic and skeptical about the potential for metaverse technologies in ODR moving forward.